During the month of October 2020, Nigeria was rocked by major protests against the SARS police unit, which was accused of perpetrating serious violence on Nigerian citizens.
Who are you ?
I am 35 years old. I presently work in a downstream oil company and founder of an advocacy group called ‘The Nigerian Advocate’ a group dedicated in promoting good governance, equity, accountability and living the Nigerian dream. I am married with two kids and reside on the Island in Lagos, Nigeria.
How did you live before the movement started (financially, socially, significant experiences) ? What led you personally to participate in the movement ?
I live the life of an average Nigerian that goes to work everyday and uses the Lekki Toll Plaza on daily basis. The #EndSars protest started like a child’s play and it is deeper than just the name. SARS stands for ‘Special Anti-robbery Squad, which is a unit under the Nigerian police with its’s so responsibility of arresting and dealing with arm robbers and hardened criminals in the Nigerian society. The unit was created in the early 1990s to help curb the high rate of arm robbery and crime in the society. The body started well but as time goes on, they deviated from the norm as a result of corruption and greed and started harassing, killing, maiming, extorting and other social vices on innocent citizens, with series of petition written against the body to higher authority without any meaningful action from the authorities. The #EndSars protest is more than just end or scrap the unit and other forms of police brutality, but also a call for good governance. I supported the movement because it was a call to action to those in authority and for good governance.
How do generally react population at the protestation ? What’s political class’ reaction (measures taken, repression)?
There was a gathering of youths including young Nigerian celebrities, musician, NGOs, pressure groups, civil society groups etc. supporting the protests and even providing food, mobility, etc. for the many days that the protest lasted. The protest took place in major cities of the country, Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Osogbo, Anambra, Imo, Delta, Abia, etc. The political class did pleaded for the protest to be called off with various governors instituting a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to check history of police brutality and compensate victims if need be. However, the population were not swayed by this antic as this wasn’t the first time such promises have been made even in other areas apart from this. It was so serious before the Lagos State Government issued a curfew to force protesters off the road and go home.
Did the gathering of the people for common demands give rise to a particular solidarity?
Yes, the gathering of people gave rise to a common solidarity which aims for good governance and for the government at all levels to take action.
How do you explain that the movement runs out of steam at the end of october ?
When the curfew was imposed by the Lagos State Government which was to start by 6pm to 5am, protesters refused to return and the military was drafted in to drive away protesters but instead they came with guns and force and opened fire at protesters killing several young people why other protesters ran away from the Toll Gate where the shootings took place. It was even dubbed ‘#Lekkimassacre. The action of the military actually made the movement ran out of steam.
A revolt based on the desire for a better world, given the evolution of things today, has your vision of the “ideal world” changed? What do you hope for your country and, more broadly, for the world?
My vision for the ideal world of fairness, equity, accountability, justice hasn’t changed. I hope the protest and movement as demonstrated by the youths has passed a message to the ruling class that as we are heading to a general election in 2023, things must change for the better or else a revolution might occur. This is how I want the world to be where a son of nobody can become somebody, where the running class will stop the oppression of the lower class, where elections will be free and fair and the will of the people prevails always.
The end of the movement was often described as premature abandonment. Do you find the decision to stop the movement to avoid excessive loss of life reasonable?
The movement ended prematurely as a result of the army invasion which left scores dead and even the five points raised by the youths to the government has not been implemented to this day. The decision is a good one and very reasonable to avoid excessive loss of lives of unarmed protesters.
The median age in Nigeria is 18, which makes its population very young. How do you see the role of youth in the End Sars movement ?
The #EndSars protest/movement was a concept of the youth brought by several years of police brutality of especially young people whom were labelled criminals and other forms of allegation levelled against them. So the role of the youth made the movement very vibrant and it went viral worldwide.